By Sarah Jones
BOSTON--The Hub's newest agency last week unveiled commercials with an anti-smoking message aimed at inner-city kids. The television and radio ads, created by The Heat, seek to penetrate the young black market by using local teenagers and the tagline, 'Don't let the cigarette companies play you.'
'We wanted black youth talking to black youth to cut down on the corniness factor,' said agency principal and art director DeMane Davis. She noted that students from Boston
English High School were cast to appear in the spots. Added her partner, copywriter Khari Streeter, 'It's its own PR value. When you use the target in the advertising, it starts a local buzz about it. It's a grassroots advertising method.'
One of the television spots, 'Between Classes,' was shot in a school hallway. Students mill around lockers while one boy walks by sporting a red and white jacket with 'Menthol Wear' written on the back. He's laughed at and called a 'cigarette company clown' by his peers, who seem wise to the lure of nicotine. 'That gear ain't free,' one boy insists. 'You gotta smoke six packs just to get a key chain.'
The Heat, a minority vendor to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Tobacco Control Program, was launched in April when Davis and Streeter spun out of Heater Advertising to create an agency specializing in crafting youth-oriented messages. The creative duo worked at Heater for the past two years and at Boston-based Houston Herstek Favat, lead agency for the state's anti-smoking initiative since its inception three years ago. Houston Herstek handled media placement on this assignment, Davis said.
The commercials are scheduled to run through the end of the year. The Heat reports that it has no new DPH assignments in the pipeline.
A separate production company called Two Potato was set up by Davis and Streeter while employed by Houston Herstek. It now operates from the agency's offices on Winchester Street in Boston's Bay Village and helped produce the spots in conjunction with producer Scott Doggett of Heater Advertising.
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